As part of series on Arduino development, this article will give you and an Introduction to Arduino hardware and software. Subsequent posts will cover these topics in detail
What is Arduino
Arduino is an open source project, company that designs and manufacturers micro controller based kits for various purposes. Most of the boards designed by Arduino are open source. So, you will find various manufacturer producing these boards. There are different types of boards from Arduino. The company also builds tools for programming these micro controllers. This with the support of strong community makes the development easy for everyone.
Arduino has different types of boards. They are all good for development work before you actually use the corresponding micro controller on a production board.
This is one of the most popular board. I suggest you buy one of these, if you are just starting with Arduino. Various shields are available for available for this board to help you in adding sensors, controllers to your project. This board will be mainly used for development purpose only, as it is easier to handle. These boards use ATMEL micro controllers.
Arduino Pro Mini and Pro Micro.
These boards use similar micro controller as as Uno, with a smaller layout. They have same set of pins as UNO. One of the main difference between Mini and MIcro is the availability of USB to serial converter in Pro Micro. But there are other differences you will notice when you start using them. You can grab each of these too. These boards too use Atmel micro controllers.
Mega 2560 is another common board. As the name suggests, this is bigger board and bigger in specs as well. Notable point is availability of 4 serial ports. So, we can use second port for logging while the first port is connected to an external device/sensor. The device also comes with more SRAM for more complex computation.
There are other types of boards from Arduino. They are relatively powerful and expensive. These boards include Lilypad, Zero, Due, Yun. Some of them are used for special purpose. For example, you can use Lilypad for wearable projects.
Lets us compare the specifications of few popular boards. We will be using these boards in our next set of tutorials. So, it is better to understand the difference.
|Board||Micro Controller||Operating Input Voltage||CPU Speed||Analong Input/Output||Digital IO/PWM||EEPROM (KB)||SRAM (KB)||Flash (KB)||UART|
|Uno||ATmega328P||5 V / 7-12 V||16 MHz||6/0||14/6||1||2||32||1|
|Pro Mini||ATmega328P||3.3 V / 3.35-12 V||8 MHz||6/0||14/6||1||2||32||1|
|5 V / 5-12 V||16 MHz|
|Micro||ATmega32U4||5 V / 7-12 V||16 MHz||12/0||20/7||1||2.5||32||1|
|Mega 2560||ATmega2560||5 V / 7-12 V||16 MHz||16/0||54/15||4||8||256||4|
Arduino IDE is an application developed by Arduino and it is used for programming all Arduino boards. It comes with editor, compiler and upload tools. All can be done directly from IDE. The software is available for all Major platforms like Windows, Linux. It also provides tools to see the serial output from the device it connected to. Here is a screenshot of Arduino IDE.